Cross Leads Vermont to Victory over New Hampshire

Just when it looked like the game might slip through Vermont’s fingers, junior Brittney Cross stepped up and nailed five of six free throws and a huge jump shot all, with under two minutes left in the game, to give the Catamounts a victory over the visiting New Hampshire Wildcats. With the win Vermont improves to 9-16 overall and 5-10 in the America East conference, remaining in a tie with Maine for seventh place. “Brittney Cross was amazing down the stretch,” said coach Sharon Dawley. “On the bench we were saying Britt’s got to start nailing some shots if we are going to do this. As we were saying this she nailed that critical three. That is the kind of player she is.”The game got off to a good start for the Cats as they hit their first four shots including three 3-pointers by senior Ashleigh Cuncic. But the rest of the half UVM managed to make only six of 26 shots. They entered the half leading 28-22.Vermont maintained the advantage for the first 9:30 of the second half and the lead expanded to as many as eight at 39-31 with 13:54 remaining. But New Hampshire (15-12, 7-9) went on a 14-3 run to take the lead at 45-42 with just under seven minutes remaining.Vermont responded as back up guard Sara Fenton hit a lay up off a great feed from sophomore Alexis Castro and then followed it up on the next possession by nailing just her third 3-pointer of the year. The shot gave Vermont the lead once again at 47-45 with just 5:30 remaining.”She had guts to take it,” said Cross of the Fenton 3-pointer. “To hit it was definitely a momentum change.”A pair of free throws with 3:20 remaining gave the lead back to the Wildcats, but then Cross took over. The second best free throw shooter in America East drained two free throws with 2:03 showing on the clock to give the Catamounts a 50-49 lead, and they would not trail again.”It’s a big sigh of relief once you get a good win like that in a close game,” said Cross who filled up the scorebook with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals to go along with her 15 points.While Cuncic was the offensive star in the first half, scoring 13 points while playing all 20 minutes, the second half was all about defense for the senior. She drew the tough assignment of guarding New Hampshire forward Ray Williams, who had a career high 24 points last time out against UVM. Cuncic responded with six steals and limited Williams’ impact on the game. Williams did have 13 points and 10 rebounds but she missed four key free throws late in the game.”Ashleigh was tremendous on Ray Williams,” Dawley said. “[Williams] is a great post player, she is long, she can jump out of the gym. But she doesn’t like when a guard defends her, so that’s a switch we made and we were not going to take Ashleigh off her until [she] called for a sub.”This weekend UVM also said goodbye to their seniors, Chrissy Battram and Cuncic, as they closed out the regular season on Saturday against Binghamton.The Catamounts will open America East conference tournament play facing the Seawolves of Stony Brook on Friday March 10th at 12 pm at the host University of Hartford.